Learning to Fly: Interview with Magdalena Riegler

A few weeks ago we launched our new series of interviews: Learning to Fly. The idea is talking to people who really understand about flying and learning how to raise vaulters from scratch. VaultingNews believes that investing on young athletes is the best way to grow.

(Click here to read other Learning to Fly interviews)

So, let’s talk about flyers. Do all flyers have to be small young kids? Do they have to be flexible or strong? Can big flyers also fly? These are a few of the questions we wanna answer.

This time we’ve talked to a flyer who is quite different from other vaulters: Magdalena Riegler. 

She has been a part of the senior team from Wildegg, Austria, since 2010. One of the best and most traditional vaulting teams in the world. The thing is, Magdalena is 20 years old and flies at a high performance level.

We talked about how she got there, where she wants to go and much more. Check out and learn from the best:

  1. Tell us a little bit of your vaulting career. How did you start to vault and how did you end up in Wildegg? How was your way up to Team 1?

I started vaulting at the age of 11, because a friend of mine in primary school started to vault and I went along with her once. A few days later I had my first training in Wildegg. When my mom called my trainer (Lilli) and told her that I wanted to start vaulting, she mentioned that I am quite small for my age, but Lilli just said that that’s absolutely no problem, it’s even good. I think that was the first time I heard someone say that being short was going to be an advantage.

So here is my “vaulting biography” in shortcut: I began doing small individual competitions for about two years and got into the „fourth group“(easy compulsory in gallop, and freestyle in strod), a year after that I was bumped up into the “L- team” (freestyle in gallop two by two).

And then, (I remember exactly) early evening on New Year’s Eve, my trainer called and asked if I wanted to join the first Team, because one of her flyers had quit. I think you all know what I answered ;).

  1. Is your training schedule any different from your team mates because you are a flyer? How do you manage to stay fit for flying?

We all have the same training schedule, although some of us do individual vaulting too (including me). I train five times a week. We have a strength training that we have to do and especially in summer, we go running and the training gets a little more intense. I also go jogging and stretch at home.

Learn to fly with Magdalena Riegler, the flyer from Wildegg, vaulting team from Austria.

  1. You are known for being one of the oldest flyers around. What do you think are your advantages against young flyers?   What do you think are the weak aspects of it and how do you try to make it up during training?

I wouldn’t say there are advantages or disadvantages it’s just different. If you are younger, your body can do different things than when you are older. With younger flyers you are able to do more exercises like „throwing“ the flyer around, or other maybe higher lifts than with older flyers, because they are lighter. Older flyers on the other hand, probably have an easier time controlling themselves and are likelier to hold themselves up, because there body is more mature and they have had more time to build up muscle.

  1. How do you manage to build up the trust upon the team mates that lift you up? Was there ever an occasion you didn’t feel like flying? How did you overcome that fear? Do you have any advice for young flyers out there who might look at you and maybe dream of becoming a great vaulter one day?

Well, I think I never really was afraid and I think that helps to develop trust. I have been training with this team (except for some changes) for five years now. We have built up a routine with one another (especially between Niki and me because we do a lot together in the freestyle).

So fear was never really a big subject for me. The few times I “didn’t feel like flying”, or was a little scared, did of course happen, I think that’s just a part of the game. If something like that happens you have to jump back onto the horse, clear the issue, forget it and keep going. I think that’s most important, because if you start overthinking, the problems start.

Here is a quote that I quite like and that is inspiring for me and can maybe be the same for young flyers:  I won’t predict anything historic. But nothing is impossible. – Michael Phelps

Learn to fly with Magdalena Riegler, longtime flyer from Wildegg, a vaulting team from Austria.

  1. What are your current goals as a vaulter? And for the team? What are your greatest achievements as part of your club up to now?

The current goal for me and I think I can also speak for my teammates, is to qualify for this year’s European Championships in Aachen and then of course to be able to show and give the best we possibly can. The greatest achievement for me so far was vice-European champion in 2013.

Bonus question: What is one “must do every day” exercise you would recommend to flyers reading this right now?

I am afraid to say but it’s hard for me to think of “the one” exercise. Of course it’s not bad, for example, to perfect and practice handstands but I also think it’s very important to have an “all-round fitness”, good stamina, strength in arms, legs and to have good tummy muscle. It’s very important for a flyer to be fit, so if you fall that you can prevent yourself from getting injured badly.


I am a 27 years old psychologist from Brazil, although I have graduated in psychology I work with media and communications, with a focus on data analysis. I am currently heading towards a master's degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). I am not vaulting anymore, but I did for over 10 years. As it very often happens in our sport, I never really left, I taught at a social project for a few years and have been working on VN since 2014.

Leave a Reply